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NHS makes crucial decision on local stroke services

A decision has been taken by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on where in Kent the Hyper Acute Stroke Units (HASUs) are to be located.

The committee voted to site the services in Darent Valley, Maidstone and the William Harvey in Ashford.

No mention was made of what will happen if the decision is taken to centralise services in a new hospital in Canterbury, as that consultation will not run until later this year.

The meeting was supposed to be held in public, but was eventually suspended after persistent disruption and heckling from left-leaning campaign group SONiK.

The actions of SONiK, which is campaigning for services to be based in Margate, left other attendees including campaign group CHEK, campaigning for a new hospital in Canterbury, permanently excluded from the meeting.

Margate has one of the worst performing stroke services in the country, and critics point out that it is surrounded on three sides by sea, meaning it is unsuitable to house a service relied on by all of east Kent.

CHEK chairman Ken Rogers said: “It is disappointing that the public meeting had to be abandoned, but actually we in Canterbury are no worse off.

“There will be an opportunity for local people to have their say over where all services are centralised in the future, and realistically the choice is Ashford or Canterbury.

“We hope that Thanet residents will get behind CHEK and campaign for a new hospital in Canterbury – the centre of the region. Otherwise patients face ambulance journeys of over an hour to reach Ashford.”

The decision to locate the HASUs in Ashford, Darent Valley and Maidstone will need to be signed off by KCC and is also likely to face a further legal challenge.

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